OPINION: Wallingford’s star shines brightly

OPINION: Wallingford’s star shines brightly



By William W. Dickinson, Jr.

We live in a great town with good schools, safe streets, well-trained emergency response, reliable water/sewer and electric energy services, an active public health outreach, recreational opportunities, and a renowned public library.

In order for us to enjoy these attributes, the community requires local government to make good decisions. The prudent management of public money and publicly owned property and equipment is essential for the delivery of local government services. The Mayor’s office plays an important role in determining the quality of services and the cost of services. Ultimately, the cost of services becomes the tax and utility rate bills which residents and businesses pay.

Our goal is to provide good, affordable services. In our immediate area, Wallingford has the lowest tax mill rate: Cheshire 33.22 mills, Durham 35.89 mills, Hamden 48.86 mills, Meriden 40.86 mills, North Haven 31.18 mills, Southington 30.64 mills, and Wallingford 29.19 mills. Our water/sewer utility rates are reasonable compared with other municipalities. Wallingford residential electric rates are the lowest in Connecticut. These stewardship duties in managing public money are taken very seriously. Prudent management of finances results in the ability to provide reliable and good services on a continuous basis.

Mindful of the need to spend within our means, we pursue three goals: Protect, Improve, Nurture.

Protect

Local government seeks to protect the community. Public safety – the emergency service of the Fire and Police departments – is a vital component. We have opened a new fire station on North Farms Road and increased ambulance service. An $800,000 fire truck is funded in the current budget. We are spending $6,000,000 for a new radio system for Police and Fire emergency response and $300,000 for new software for Police records management and dispatch. Four new police officers have increased staffing. Protection also includes efforts to prevent the impacts of ransomware and the theft of public records and personal information. It includes voicing public health concerns about opioids and drug abuse. It dictates that we enforce contract rights to protect the interests of electric rate payers.

Improve

We continually improve the local government services and adapt to changing demographics and the state’s economic health. The Economic Development Commission emphasizes retention of existing businesses and attraction of new business. In 2018, Wallingford had 70 new or expanded businesses. This year, through July 2019, we have 46 new or expanded businesses. The Public Works and the Parks and Recreation Departments are preparing a new playing field at Pragemann Park and new facilities at the Grand Street Park. The public schools respond to career and employment opportunities by offering new courses, such as Advanced Business Management and Mathematics for Technology, Design and Innovation. The Economic Development Commission, Public Schools, and the Youth and Social Services Department collaborate to make Wallingford a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) community.

Nurture

We live in a town that benefits from a nurturing environment. Our Senior Center encourages and offers programs to enhance the lives of senior citizens. Our Public Library unveils new programs for interactive learning. The Wallingford Day Care, the Family Y, Public Education, the Youth and Social Services Department, and other businesses coordinate care and learning for youth of all ages. Our Health Department’s work and slogans of “Eat, Play, Unplug” and “Choose Kindness”, the Coalition for a Better Wallingford, Master’s Manna, Wallingford Emergency Shelter, the Spanish Community of Wallingford, the Garden Club, sports leagues, and so many other employees of private and public organizations truly care and minister to our citizens. Wallingford Center, Inc., Public Schools and the Economic Development Commission collaborate and offer a Pipeline to Employment. People who need training, new skills, and confidence can enroll in a program to find employment. It is a new program that responds to a real need.

We live in a great community with great civic energy and sincere caring. Elections offer a choice for the governance of Wallingford. I believe that the values and priorities expressed here are good for our town. Wallingford’s star shines brightly. Shine on!

William W. Dickinson, Jr. is seeking re-election as mayor of Wallingford. For more information, please visit: dickinsonformayor.com 


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